Photo by Garrick Dixon - Until Robinson started his epic run, the day looked like it belonged to Gagliardi.
After a relatively slow start to the morning where the South Carolina pro caught three fish in the first two hours, Gagliardi keyed into an open-water jerkbait bite late in the first period, recording 10 fish in a 27-minute flurry just before the period break. That burst added 20-10 to Gagliardi’s weight, pushing him past Hackney and into the lead, which he added to with six fish and 12-5 in the second period.
But not long after that, Gagliardi hit an afternoon lull where he failed to catch a scorable bass for nearly two hours, and Robinson went on his tear.
“To me, it’s all about positioning myself well in that Top 20 (to advance out of the Elimination Round), so today was a successful day for me,” Garliardi said. “I coudn’t ask for a better way to kick off this new part of my career.’
Having not fished under the MLF format before, Gagliardi wasn’t sure what to expect, but after the strong start, he can’t wait until Friday.
“It was awesome. Granted, a lot has to do with the fact that I caught ‘em well. I was thinking about it after I was out there. I had 14 or 15 fish and I was thinking about what my best five would be and then what would happen if I catch a 2-even or four of them and they don’t help you. That’s frustrating, but now, every time you catch one it adds fuel to the fire. It keeps you focused. I don’t think as much or crunch numbers as much about what I need. I’m not worrying about what I need to catch. I can just fish and focus on that.”
While the majority of his catches came offshore, he did spend time poking around some grass and other emergent vegetation, but had no luck doing so. Ultimately, he thinks if the weather warms up, he might have to switch gears.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I could do (the offshore thing) for two more days and not get a bite. Eventually, at some point, the grass bite (could improve). With a break in the weather that’s going to trump offshore. The numbers are in your favor out there, but the guys in the grass catch numbers, too, with 4s and 5s mixed in and that can make up a lot of ground.
“If it stays cold and windy, that gives the offshore bite more of a chance. If the nicer weather comes through, it might turn into something different.”